Language Access & Services

Language Access and English Language Acquisition - Keys to Engagement & Participation

Language Access has been a key priority in San Francisco since 2001 when the City enacted the Equal Access to Services Ordinance (EAS) to ensure meaningful access and the same level of service to Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons that was available to all city residents. Since the Ordinance was amended in 2009 as the Language Access Ordinance (LAO), OCEIA has been charged with overseeing compliance, implementing one of the most comprehensive local language access laws in the nation, and engaging community organizations and City departments in an ongoing effort to better serve LEP residents in San Francisco.

In March 2015, the LAO was further amended by the Board of Supervisors and signed into law by the Mayor. These actions
clearly make the San Francisco LAO the strongest, self-imposed local language law in the nation. Key changes include amending the administrative code to 1) expand the scope of the Language Access Ordinance to apply to all City Departments that provide information or services directly to the public; 2) revising and strengthening complaint procedures; and 3) enhancing and streamlining annual departmental compliance plan reporting requirements.

In addition to overseeing compliance, OCEIA provides direct services to assist City Departments, the Mayor’s Office and the Board of Supervisors better meet the needs of residents and workers for whom English is not a first language. Services include technical assistance, and on demand translation and interpretation assistance.

Language Access